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Presented By: Center for World Performance Studies

Musical Repatriation

A Virtual Brown Bag Lunch with Robin R.R. Gray, Frank Gunderson, and Noel Lobley. Moderated by Kelly Askew

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Free & Open to the public
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This virtual panel, hosted by the U-M Center for World Performance Studies, seeks to explore issues surrounding musical repatriation, primarily of recordings from archive, to the communities from which they were initially recorded or collected. Drawing on their diverse experiences as ethnographers, curators and archivists, panelists will discuss ethical considerations of “return,” and strategies for providing reconnection and Indigenous control and access to cultural materials. The conversation will highlight questions of ownership of and access to musical heritage, and issues involving memory, identity, history, power, agency, research, scholarship, preservation, performance, distribution, legitimacy, commodification, curation, decoloniality, and sustainability.

Dr. Robin R.R. Gray (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2015) is Ts’msyen and Mikisew Cree, and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Prior to joining our faculty, Dr. Gray held a 2-year University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research centers primarily on the politics of Indigeneity in settler colonial contexts such as Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia. As a socio-cultural anthropologist and Indigenous studies scholar, Dr. Gray employs critical ethnographic, community-based, Indigenous and intersectional methodologies in the study and presentation of knowledge, power, culture and society.

Dr. Frank Gunderson is Professor of Musicology at Florida State University. He received the B.A. degree from Evergreen State College (WA), and the M.A. in World Music and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (CT). Gunderson’s research and teaching interests include musical intersections with Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and sonic repatriation, African history, Islam, musical labor, veterans’ issues, biographical approaches, refugee communities, and documentary film. Gunderson is currently General Editor (2018-2022) of the SEM academic journal Ethnomusicology and is co-founder and co-Editor-in-Chief (together with Benjamin Harbert) of the new SEM Journal of Audiovisual Ethnomusicology. He co-edited with Robert Lancefield and Bret Woods The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation (OUP 2018).

Dr. Noel Lobley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Virginia. He is a sound curator, ethnomusicologist, and artist. At the core of his creative practice, he is committed to developing new and ethical ways to exhibit sound. His installations have been presented across South Africa, Europe, and the U.S. in spaces ranging from art galleries and festivals to rainforests, in schools and on the streets. In addition to his careers as a curator and academic, he also has worked as a DJ, in radio, and in the music industry for twenty years. Noel’s first monograph Sound Fragments: from field recording to African Electronic Stories is forthcoming (Wesleyan, Spring 2022).

Dr. Kelly Askew is Chair of Anthropology and the Niara Sudarkasa Collegiate Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies at the University of Michigan. She has worked for over three decades in Tanzania and Kenya. Her current research and documentary film projects span: poetic and performing arts, postsocialist politics, pastoralism and indigenous communities, energy access and property rights. She is the author of Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania (Chicago, 2002) and co-editor of African Postsocialisms (with M. Pitcher, Edinburgh, 2006) and The Anthropology of Media (with R. Wilk, Blackwell, 2002), among numerous publications. She co-leads the “Music Time in Africa” project, working to digitize the Leo Sarkisian collection, and make it publicly accessible.

If you require accommodation to participate in this event, please contact the Center for World Performance Studies, at 734-936-2777 or Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the University to arrange.
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